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Area keglers bow out of U.S. Open

Friday was not a good day for what was left of the Western New York contingent at the 69th U.S Open in North Brunswick, N.J. All five were eliminated in the eight-game cashier's round bowled in the morning.

Jack Jurek of Lackawanna, who was in eighth place, and Joe Ciccone of Buffalo, who was 18th, appeared to have the best chance of advancing to match play but neither made it to the round-robin portion of the tournament.

Ciccone came closest to making the cut to match play. The former Erie Community College and Arizona State All-American was 27th, missing the cut number by 14 pins. Ciccone threw a 1,586 Friday for a final 26-game total of 5,362 (206.23 average).

Jurek really struggled all through the cashier's round. His high game was 214 and he had only one other game higher than 200, a 203. Jurek finished 32nd with 5,322.

Ryan Ciminelli of Cheektowaga finished 48th with a 5,274 total. Brad Angelo of Lockport was 51st with 5,264. Buffalo native Tom Baker of King, N.C., ended up 67th (5,205) and John Szczerbinski of North Tonawanda was 83rd (5,134).

Angelo and Ciminelli were the only ones of the five who maintained a 200-pin pace on Friday. Angelo shot 1,669 and Ciminelli 1,609, but that wasn't good enough. Chris Barnes shot the best round, 1,806, and Jesse Buss of Wichita, Kan., had 1,804.

Ryan Shafer of Horseheads, who has bowled so often here as a collegian and a pro he almost seems like he's a local, is the biggest story of the tournament so far. Shafer, who has never won in 13 television appearances and never won the Open despite six top-five finishes, is going for a career breakthrough at age 45.

The leader going into the cashier's round, Shafer was simply sensational. He totaled 1,795 Friday, with all eight games higher than 200 and a high of 277. He averaged 224.4 for the round, slightly better than his tournament average.

Shafer, who has been a successful pro despite being diabetic, is the sentimental choice to win the Open among the pro bowling community. Mike Fagan, a Long Islander who has relocated to Dallas, was second entering match play, 170 pins in back of Shafer.

Among others to miss the cut to match-play were some big names on the Tour: Mika Koivuniemi, Patrick Allen and Walter Ray Williams.

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Teen invasion

The PBA establishment has had women bowlers such as Kelly Kulick and Liz Johnson and foreign-born stars such as Jason Belmonte and Osku Palermaa enter the field as viable competitors. Now they have to deal with the teen element.

There were 11 bowlers in the U.S. Open who are 17 years or younger and 14-year-old Kamron Doyle of Brentwood, Tenn., nearly stole the show. He finished 61st with a 5,220 total to become the youngest player ever to cash in a PBA major. And he did it in the toughest bowling test on the Tour. The four who make it to Sunday's stepladder final (ESPN, 3 p.m) will have bowled 50 games on a difficult oil pattern in a very competitive environment.

Doyle, 5-foot-5 and 105 pounds, didn't wilt until the end Friday. He was bowling at well over a 200 pace including a 246 and a 226, but faded to 171 and 191 his last two games.

Doyle cashed as a 12-year-old in a PBA South Regional even in Canton, Ga., but until Friday no bowler so young had earned a check in a major. Doyle's share of the purse, $1,340, will be deposited into his United States Bowling Congress SMART scholarship account. To date he has about $22,000 in that account.

For his first three qualifying rounds, Doyle was paired with veteran Johnny Petraglia, who is 65. The kid nearly outbowled the Hall of Famer. Petraglia had a 3,647 for his first 18 games. Young Doyle had 3,640.

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Pin chasers

*The Tonawandas USBC Bowling Association will hold its eighth annual Breast Cancer/Bowl for the Cure Basket Raffle fundraiser from noon-4 p.m. March 11 at Island Lanes on Whitehaven Road in Grand Island. The event is open to the public and will benefit the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation and Roswell Park Cancer initiatives against breast cancer.

At 11 a.m. a tournament featuring some of the area's best bowlers will be held. The entry fee is $40. Applications are available at area bowling centers and the association office (692-8668). Call event chairman Paul Wasiewicz at 725-1334 or tournament director Bruce Harrison at 807-1225. Volunteers and donations are welcome. Send donations to: TONUSBC Ass'n., P.O. Box 44, North Tonawanda, N.Y. 14120, or call the association office for pick-up arrangements.

*ECC again will host the National Junior College Athletic Association championships next Friday and Saturday at AMF Thruway Lanes.

email: mnorthrop@buffnews.com